In a recent Edutopia article, Angela Duckworth says schools should be measuring things such as teamwork, loyalty, honesty, grit, and creativity. She is wrong.

She says, “I don’t want to send a signal to young people that cognitive ability is the only thing that matters. It’s not. If teamwork matters, if loyalty matters, if honesty matters, if grit matters, if creativity matters, then we have to start assessing these things, because as it’s often said, what gets measured is what gets treasured.”

Kids don’t treasure Hamlet and differential equations because they are measured. They simply try to score well on the test, and Hamlet and differential equations are simply the nonsense that they must tolerate to get the grade.

What needs to happen is schools must stop measuring academic performance. Full stop.

They don’t need to replace it with “measuring the right things.” Every time you try to measure something you are going to get kids performing to a standard, not counting those who become convinced they are not up to the task, of course. And when kids are performing to such a standard they are not focusing on becoming better at “teamwork” or “grit,” they are focused on getting a certain grade. The things that matter become something that they can game. It becomes unimportant beyond the grade.


Cover photo by Ryan Lash / CC BY-NC 3.0